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Artificial Retina May Help Restore Vision

December 4, 2014

A team of researchers from Tel Aviv University and Newcastle University have created a wireless and light-sensitive, flexible film that could potentially be used as a substitute for a damaged retina. Scientists have been working for years to develop an implant that can detect light and communicate with a person’s brain in the same way that a healthy eye does. This scientific development may be a breakthrough for many patients struggling with loss of vision.

The research team found that their creation did in fact absorb light and spark activity in the neurons of the brains. In comparison to previous technologies, this one is more durable, flexible and efficient, not to mention the fact that it’s ability to stimulate neurons makes it the closest substitute to a real, human eye today.

For patients with age-related macular degeneration, this breakthrough can be especially beneficial. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the breakdown of a small area of the retina, which is known as the macula. This area is the light-sensitive part of the retina that is responsible for central vision, allowing people to see details clearly. While it is only a small part of the retina, the macula is extremely important to vision health. Without it, people may have trouble with tasks such as threading a needle, reading fine print or reading street signs.

AMD is normal among elderly people, usually aged 60 or older, and is widely accepted as part of the body’s natural aging process. There are a variety of types of macular degeneration but, for those patients specifically with age-related macular degeneration, the potential benefit of an artificial retina is enormous. Not only will it provide them with clearer vision, it will get the neurons in their brain reactivated. By replacing a retina with an artificial one, an elderly person is essentially trading in glasses that help to clarify by encouraging and enabling the eye to do it on its own.

The scientific breakthrough is still quite new, meaning that the possibility to implant this particular artificial retina may still be a ways away. For those with immediate vision needs, there are a variety of other treatment options to improve vision loss due to AMD or a range of other retinal diseases.

Aside from retinal diseases, there are a variety of other disorders that occur naturally along with the aging process. From cataracts to glaucoma, most vision disorders have a number of treatment possibilities. New advances in technology and scientific breakthroughs, such as the artificial retina discussed in this article, are providing new hope for prolonging vision health well into advanced ages.

No matter what vision obstacle you may be facing, we know that the doctors at OCLI can help. Before taking any steps towards treatment, though, it is important to have a full vision exam performed to evaluate your eyes and your immediate needs. If you are located in New Jersey or nearby, contact OCLI to make an appointment with Dr. Silverman today!

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